Value of international conferences, Asian participation up: latest Melbourne study

THE second Business Events Week opened yesterday with the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) releasing results of new research, which finds that the value of international conferences to the local economy has significantly increased and Asians now form the largest proportion of international delegates.

The Melbourne Convention Delegate Study 2013, now in its fourth edition, was commissioned to examine the conference delegate’s experience in Melbourne and the economic value driven from their attendance to the state’s economy.

The study covers the period from May to December 2013 and contains data gathered from 3,846 surveys completed by delegates from 150 countries, attending five major conferences in Melbourne.

Sharing findings from the study at a press conference, Karen Bolinger, CEO of MCB, said: “Delegates are spending more than A$1,019 (US$920) a day on accommodation, dining out, domestic air travel and recreational activities in Melbourne, representing a 28 per cent increase from the 2010 study.”

“Much of this spend is going straight into Victoria’s small to medium businesses and delivering business into the tourism sector in traditionally off-peak periods,” Bolinger added, offering the World Diabetes Congress 2013 in December as an example.

“The event generated 50 per cent of occupancy for hotels and Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre (in December), which would otherwise be quiet at that time of the year,” she explained.

The study also revealed that the majority of international delegates – 71 per cent – were new visitors to Australia and half would not have visited the country in the next three years had they not been attending a conference in Melbourne.

Asian delegates formed 49 per cent of total international attendance, while China and India were the largest source markets for Melbourne.

Bolinger also shared that 28 per cent of all international delegates were accompanied on their trip to Melbourne, with the average number of accompanying persons standing at 2.8 delegates, as well as that delegates and their companions had extended their trip beyond Melbourne city.

Thirty-eight per cent of respondents explored regional Victoria before or after the conference, and a close 36 per cent visited other parts of Australia. Sydney was most popular for extensions, garnering an 83 per cent vote.

Respondents also said that event content was most crucial in their decision to attend a conference in Melbourne.

Concluding the presentation, Bolinger said: “Major conferences may be overshadowed by sexier consumer events like the Australian Open (Tennis Championships), but their economic value is on par with consumer events and maybe even more.”

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